In the 1980s Genesis spin off group "Mike and the Mechanics" released a song called, "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)." The video (a copy on youtube) is the subject of a question I've been trying to get answered for nearly as long as it's been in release. (see links 1 and 2 at bottom)

The video for this song features the band layered over a science fiction movie. A child receives a key on his birthday from a mysterious man with an alien voice stating that it will answer his questions as to why his father had to leave. He discovers a hidden room in the house with a cube of FVX in it that eventually has his father explaining some space invasion/war that he had to go fight in.

The simple question is: did the movie suggested/previewed by the video ever exist (even if it got shelved and never released) and of course, if so... what was it?

The song did appear in the soundtrack to "On Dangerous Ground" which released in the US as "Choke Canyon." While a scene from this film seems hastily inserted in the video; "Choke Canyon" has nothing to do with the Science Fiction plot suggested by the bulk of the video.

Some are quick to point out that "Silent Running" was indeed a science fiction film. This is referring to the Bruce Dern space-ecological film of the early 1970s. This film also thematically is completely different from the material of the video.

Finally, is the suggestion of whether the scenes were produced specifically for the video. The lyrics of the song to compliment the theme of the video. The inserts of the band seem layered onto existing footage. The song itself seems like it was written for another movie. And it's hard to believe that the money necessary for some of the effects (for the time) would have been spent strictly for a video. Especially considering that this song was the first release for the band.

  1. Search from 2002 on 80s exchange
  2. Search from 2002 on LJ

3 Answers 3


I've heard the song before but I've never seen the video until now. Well I recognized Billy Drago right away. I thought that would be a big clue as to whether this was from a movie, or one time episode of something. He seems to be the only actor that can be tracked from the video other than the spliced in footage of Choke Canyon. His IMDB list him as Mysterious Stranger in the video in 1989. The movie Choke Canyon (On Dangerous Ground) was released in 1986 and the song itself was released in 1985. I also see that the director is Jim Yukich which I see from your previous discussion you knew already.

From what I've seen and researched there doesn't seem to be a movie. The directors other videos have a similar feel and look though not subject (not that he has a lot.) As far as the quality of the beginning sequence I think it was shot with the intention of making it into a onetime movie story like many music videos of the time. Another clue that this is not an actual movie is in the scene where the boy is listening to the message from his father the singers head is shown in the cube as well which it doesn't seem like it was edited in later.

Other than that I didn't get any alien war lines from the video. I could be wrong but I think if you view it again you won't hear any either. It's a moment of your mind filling in the blanks in the story. Here is what I saw. A young boy has a birthday he seems sad though. He is given a key by a man that says his father wants him to have it and it'll explain why his father couldn't be there. Then the kid opens a door and it shows space. Spliced in Choke Canyon video and band playing scenes. Also scenes of his parents having an argument that he overhears but that I couldn't. Then kid uses key to open a room and he sees a white cube that shows his fathers head and starts explaining why he couldn't be there today. Then his mother opens door and sees her son disappear and screams. Tell me if I'm missing something.

Overall this is not a movie it's a onetime music video.


The song's video features a few clips from the film Choke Canyon, but is primarily based on the completely unrelated story on which the song's lyrics are based. wikipedia

As far as I know there is not an actual movie. I searched around but I couldn't find anything that could leed me to the "movie". Based on some other fans opinion, the video was made only for the this song and it's not related to any film or project.

  • 1
    Can you give some links to the fan opinions? As mentioned above, the production quality and level of the band inserts vs the backing movie makes it harder to believe that the film portions were created strictly for the video. Feb 13, 2012 at 16:46
  • I read some pages from google results and all the user comments from youtube, and one of them said that could be taken from the movie On Sacred Ground. Did you checked this movie?
    – Advicer
    Feb 13, 2012 at 16:59
  • The only references I can find on "On Sacred Ground" are films from 1980 and 2009. The latter is eliminated for obvious reasons. The former seems to be a historical pic covering an aboriginal tribe dispute over mining rights. (abc.net.au/aplacetothink/html/sacred_ground.htm) So, I'm going to have to rule those out. Feb 13, 2012 at 19:03
    – Advicer
    Feb 13, 2012 at 19:06

There's a lot of interesting info on the Wiki page for the song. It's not far-fetched to believe the "movie" within the song is not real, as music videos of that era were often mini movies (remember "Thriller"?) with fairly large production budgets. Music videos were the medium of the future, and MTV was a global radio station to get the music heard. Plus, Rutherford's association with Genesis meant he already had a decent built-in fan base, so it wasn't really as much of a risk as pouring a couple hundred grand into a music video for a completely unknown band.

So, in short, the song was used in On Dangerous Ground (which was renamed Choke Canyon in the US) and the video was merely a story about

a guy who's traveled light-years away, out in space somewhere, and he's ahead in time. Therefore he knows what's going to happen to his wife and kids back home, on Earth. And he's trying to get the message to them to say what's going to happen, the kind of anarchy, the breakdown of society, to tell them to be prepared

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